I mentioned in an earlier post about essential daily habits how working out is a habit that should be added daily (not weekly) for optimal performance. With all the time constraints of medical school, how do you maximize the tip spent working out? Here are a few tips I’ve used to help get a great workout, under 45 mins, in medical school.
Walk Into the Gym Prepared
Say goodbye to the days where you go into the gym expecting to just go with the flow. Just as you have a plan studying for your classes, you need to approach your workouts the same way.
The best way to do this is to come up with a consistent training plan that you will follow every week. Now coming up with a workout plan may seem complicated for some, but I’ll go ahead and break down a few options:
– Upper Body/Lower Body Splits
– Full Body Workouts
After you select a style a program, think about the exercises that you want to do for those days. Also, think about what form of cardio you’d want to do and select particular days for those.
Regardless of which one you pick, have a day of the week designated for a specific part of the plan. Now when you go to the gym on Wednesday you know it’s a Lower body day or Arm day. This will avoid any unnecessary time spent worrying about what exercises and machines we’ll be using.
You can find many pre-made workout plans on the internet if you don’t feel comfortable making your own. When I was first starting out I often turned to plans on bodybuilding.com. They have many comprehensive workouts for beginners!
Most workout plans from bodybuilding.com and other sites will often take more than 45 minutes. I’ve included other tips below to still be to start one of these programs and finish under 45 minutes.
In the future, I’ll write more posts with specific advice on working out. For now, just come up with a plan and know what you will be doing before you step into the gym.
Supersets are Your Friends
A super what? Superset is a simple principle of putting two exercises back to back before you rest. It has many benefits, one of them being efficiency. You’ll get a lot more work done in your 45 minutes, but you’ll also notice that your heart rate will remain elevated throughout the workout! <3
Now while it doesn’t matter what exercises you pair together, it’s often recommended to choose body parts with opposing functions. For example, your triceps and biceps are antagonistic muscles. A superset of these two muscles groups can be bicep curls for 12 reps followed by triceps dip for 12 reps. Once you’ve completed both exercises you can take a rest break before you begin again.
Because you should already have a plan on what workouts you’ll be doing, ask yourself which ones you can pair together to get a quick workout! I use this technique when I’m short on time but still want to leave feeling like I put in work.
Minimize Rest Time
See if this sounds familiar. You’re working out and you take a break after one of your exercises. You’re not paying attention and BOOM suddenly 5 minutes have gone by without you doing anything.
A great way to combat the time hole between your exercises is to have a set rest time. I often aim for 1 minute for less strenuous movements, and 2 minutes for exercises such as squat or bench press.
Keep a timer on your phone or look at the clock in the gym. Regardless of what you do, keep yourself accountable. You’re in the gym to work, not rest. 😀
Headphones, in my opinion, are a must. Not only does the right music get you motivated to workout, you also indicate to others that you’re not in the gym to talk. These 45 minutes are yours and it’s a great way to display that without being rude. I recently found a great and inexpensive pair from Amazon that is wireless.
Along with headphones, I’d recommend any app that can track your progress. Going back to having a plan, it’s important to have an idea of the amount of weight and repetition you were doing last week. You’ll then already know what weights you’ll be using vs. messing around until you find something that “feels” right.
If you selected a plan from bodybuilding.com then you can use their BodySpace App which allows you to directly insert your weights and reps for the plan you’re doing. If you decide to go with your own plan then an app I’d recommend is FitNotes. It’s simple and you can also see a graphical model of your progress.
Do it First or Last Thing in the Day
There are a few benefits to scheduling your workouts either early in the day or late at night. For one the gym is often not as busy at these two times. You don’t want to plan to for an efficient workout and then end up spending 1.5 hours because of overcrowding. This is why I try to avoid the gym between 3-6 if possible.
The second benefit is these times are more guilt free. Often I find that when I workout in the middle of the day, I’m thinking about all the things I could or need to be doing. You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about taking care of yourself!
Thus morning or late night workouts are the best in my opinion. In the morning it’s easy to perceive your workout as a healthy start to the day. Evening workouts can seem to be a great stress reliever after a busy day.
So time your workout into the part of the day where you (and the gym) are less busy.
Be Goal Minded
This is perhaps one of the most important piece of advice I can give you. Similar to how important it is to walk in with a plan, you must walk in everyday and week with a goal.
Overall you must ask yourself what you want to get out of your workouts? Do you want to be stronger, leaner, lose weight, or have more endurance? Once you decide your physique and athletic goals, you can tailor your workout plans around them.
In addition to having an overall goal, start to make micro-goals. These are goals for your workouts and more specifically each exercise. For example, using my phone apps I can see what weights I used last time I squatted. Before I’ll go into the gym I’ll make a goal to either do more weight, or the same weight for more reps. This way once before I squat in the workout, I’ll already know what weight to put on, how many reps I’ll attempt, and how long I’ll be resting.
To be efficient you must have goals on a macro and micro level in your workouts
Call it Quits After an Hour
The goal is 45 minutes, but sometimes you’ll find yourself in workouts that are taking longer. This could be due to the amount of exercises you want to finish, requiring more rest, or someone using a machine you need. These circumstances aren’t always avoidable but try to cap your workouts as close to an hour as possible. If you notice only ten minutes left on the clock, you have room for 1-2 more exercises.
Sometimes the best way to have an efficient workout is to accept that you put in enough work and call it a day.
These were just some of the tips I use to be able to workout in medical school 5-6 times a week in medical school without any guilt. Hopefully this advice helps some of you in having a quicker and better workout! I’d love to know what tips you may use to have efficient workouts so comment below or message me directly!
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Until next time…